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After the Paris attacks and now the Russian Bomber being downed by the Turks - we live in uncertain times
James Campion reflects on ISIS here but perhaps all this won't end very pretty...
||"Which is the greater danger - nuclear warfare or the population explosion? The latter absolutely! To bring about nuclear war, someone has to DO something; someone has to press a button. To bring about destruction by overcrowding, mass starvation, anarchy, the destruction of our most cherished values-there is no need to do anything. We need only do nothing except what comes naturally - and breed. And how easy it is to do nothing." - Dr. Isaac Asimov, biochemist and science writer in 1966 predicting a world population of 6 Billion - now well on it's way to 11 Billion by 2100.
OK – a whole month of positive thinking produced indifferent results – although it has to be said no comet fell on my house, I managed not to crash my car and I had a nice birthday week with best pal Kit visiting for a few days. Hell we even found a pub that serves veggie food in Louth and lets the dog in. Hooray for that.
Perhaps I was hoping too much for investing positive thoughts for just 31 days. My sister, who runs Positive Living Radio practices positive thinking 365 days a year, but I think that would clearly make me insane. It goes against my nature, that of being an optimistic pessimist. The worst is always going to happen, whatever bad idea is out there, like Corbynomics, there’s always a whole lot of people instantly attracted to it. The same group of people, wherever they are in the world, who ALWAYS fall for politicians’ lies and wake up to utter devastation of their economies. Chavez in Venezuela, Castro in Cuba, Peron in Argentina, Tsipras in Greece, Machel in Mozambique, and now Rousseff is taking Brazil down the swanny with her. All of them lifted into power by ‘positive’ thinking and an exceptionally poor grasp of economics.
So I was watching Swedish Professor Hans Rosling give his very spectacular lecture on Don't Panic: The Truth about World Population Growth – recently repeated on BBC2. Here is man very much infected by positive thinking as he projects the world population heading towards 11 Billion by 2100. (The link gives access to the stats and the Video of the talk). His thrust of the argument is that we have already passed the peak childbirth number, with around two billion children in the world at present, and the growth numbers are coming from a longer living more prosperous general population. * I wrote this just before China announced they now have a two-child policy and this could definitely alter Prof Rosling's stats and put us over the population edge nine months from now. It is said China has a shortage of women, but why no discussion on how robotics might well be filling professional and caring gaps in future and any increase in numbers now might well be problematic by the time they are 20 for their careers and child-rearing. No doubt others will think hard about this.
It is true that not only are more people living to an old age, aided by diet and medicine and the ‘peace’ dividend of the last fifty years, but also, prior to 1950, the average birthrate was 5.5 – as so many children used to die of relatively simple diseases like measles or epidemics such as polio. (Certainly I would not have lived if born earlier as I had a complication that would have killed me in earlier times) As kids survive, the urgency to replace children has gone and the rising tide of populations being lifted out of poverty has meant that the average now, for those living more stable lives, is 2.5 children. Prof Rosling explained that poverty is relative. Here in the UK anyone earning less than £10,000 per year would be considered living in extreme poverty (Pensioners often survive on less), but that would make you wealthy in some Asian and African countries where £1000 per year would be an achievement.
Nevertheless, the emphasis is on education, hygiene and mobility to make a huge difference. The simple addition of a bicycle to a poor farming family can make a huge difference to their ability to sell what they grow and get to distant health clinics. In addition access to nearby clean water all contribute to enabling children to survive and lift people out of poverty, thus reducing the need to have so many kids.
I like the thrust of his argument that we need not panic, that humanity is already on a reducing curve, albeit that still takes us up to 11 Billion before falling back. Nevertheless my own inclination to pessimism asks those awkward questions about war, famine, and political instability, the increasing attraction for politicians who promise to square the circle on ‘austerity’ without pain and who inevitably wreck the economy in the process. The migrant crisis in Europe will not disappear. The Middle East will not suddenly grow peaceful and prosperous, nor will competing religions cease their will to impose their interpretation of the ‘truth’ on others by force if necessary. See the Dr Asimov quote at the header. He was not one of life's optimists.
The very fact of Putin always siding with dictators over the rights of indigenous populations to democracy exacerbates regional problems. Russia’s intervention to re-impose the will of Assad will only mean that the population will continue to empty out of Syria and the surrounding regions as they are squeezed by IS on the other side. Turkey, led by ego inflated Erdogan, could be heading towards civil war, right on Europe’s doorstep. His election win will only accellerate the extreme islamification of Turkey at the expense of the educated classes and alienate the moderate Kurds.
The world population is growing, the political strains are smashing up the status quo and instability is going to be the order of the day. Children may well be the casualty.
China might be the flavour of the month right now in the UK, but why are they building military base islands in the South China seas unless they intent to dominate and invade all their neighbours? Most of the rise of the world population is in Asia and Africa for the rest of this century. China will come into conflict for sure with someone, but Africa, if it is to survive and feed itself, must rid itself of the governing kleptocracies they keep electing. History hasn’t been kind to Africa and would suggest that strife and famine will come unless they can find a sudden respect for the rule of law from the Cape to Cairo. Corruption saps strength from every country and undermines social progress and leads to ruin. The numbers will grow but will they live in safety? Access to education for girls is key to prosperity in Africa and yet there is the mindless resistance to that from the likes of Boko Haram that could reverse all social and material progress in huge swathes of North and West Africa.
So whereas I can believe in Prof Rosling's figures – it quickly comes apart when you add real-politic to the figures and the future may well be migration on such a scale it will overwhelm stable regions. President Trump may have to build his wall a lot faster than he thinks. (Though I still refuse to believe he can still be the front runner). In fact wall building might be the one growth industry of the 21st Century. Hearts will harden. Food and health will be weaponised.
There’s a reason kids read Dystopian fiction – they already know what the future what looks like and it’s not cute or funny. The positive thinkers will be those with stout walking shoes…
© Sam North November 2015 - Joint Editor
More to come
© Sam Hawksmoor December 2015 - Joint Editor
*As ever Hackwriters is supported by sales of our books - so do buy, print or kindle we aren't picky.
**And thanks for those who do. The Heaviness, Another Place to Die: The Endtime Chronicles are recommended. Buy the spy/romance Repercussions of Tomas D set in the Blitz first. You know you want to. Check out the new book Marikka published by Hammer & Tong
||MARIKKA- exclusively on Amazon Print and kindle 2015
Based on a tragic real life event, Marikka flees from an arson attack on her home to the sea, where she meets Starfish boy – a runaway working for Jackson, a scarred man hiding a sinister secret from the world. Meanwhile her real father searches for her with the aide of Anya, ‘the girl who can read objects’. More about the writing of this book
‘Long after my tears dried, my heart stayed with Marikka, Starfish Boy and the strange girl who reads objects.’ CT
You will smile, you will gasp with shock, and you will struggle to read the words through your tears. Gemma Williams - Amazon.co.uk 2015
The all new 2nd Edition of 'ANOTHER PLACE TO DIE: ENDTIME CHRONICLES
By Sam Hawksmoor and Sam North
Could you live in a world where antibiotics no longer work?
Print & Kindle
Q&A interview with the authors here
A city gripped by fear as a lethal virus approaches from the East. No one knows how many are dying. People are petrified of being thrown into quarantine. Best friends Kira and Liz once parted are scared they will never see each other again. Teen lovers, Chris and Rachel, prepare to escape to the islands. Do you stay and hide, or do you flee?
Review from the First Edition:
'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who comes near you...' Roxy Williams - Amazon.co.uk
||Spy/Romance thriller set during the Blitz in WW2 - Kindle download
All proceeds go to keeping Hackwriters going
The Repercussions of Tomas D
A Hero? Or Englands Greatest Traitor? USA Paperback here
'Disturbing and very poignant YA love story that presents a chilling alternate future for an England that lost the war.' Marcel d'Agneau
'A brilliant imagining of living in the Blitz, well researched.' Amazon UK
*download the Kindle version or buy the paperback from Hammer & Tong
|'The Heaviness' for any reader who likes to think about such things as betrayal, revenge, relationships and the laws of gravity.
An original Genie Magee story
The Heaviness published by Hammer and Tong
Genie & Renée have just 36 hours to save Rian or he dies
'Without a doubt, one of the best YA Sci Fi series out there.' Evie Seo Bookish
Kindle & print
*Thanks to readers who have been steadily buying this title all year. If you liked, please post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It all helps.
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